Going into Business.
As a naïve 22 year old, going into business and purchasing my first farm with my wife, and my parents, I was realising a dream that I had harboured for the previous 7 years. Being that naïve 22 year old, little did I know that they wouldn’t be my only business partners, I would be entering into this brand new venture with a strong willed silent business partner. As with all businesses there are key stakeholders, vital relationships that help the business grow, but after nearly five years of growth and expansion, my silent partner would first play her hand and make some significant demands, not only on the operational and financial parts of the business but also the physical and emotional ones as well. The silent business partners name was Mother Nature.
First of many Demands.
In 1993 Mother Nature played her hand for the first time, although she had been my silent business partner for years, this was the first time that her demands really effected the viability of my business. After days of rain and a combination of swollen rivers, my whole farm was inundated with water, in places up to waist deep. At the time we were having a ripping spring with abundant grass to feed the cows, we were planning conserve excess pasture and put us in a pretty good position for the rest of the season. Within hours those plans were shot, the farm went under. This placed massive demands on all aspects of the enterprises some instantaneous and some longer term, this tested my resourcefulness, and adaptability, but also showed us the strength in community.
The start of the End.
In the early 2000’s once again my business partner decided to pay me a visit, climatic conditions were slowly getting tighter and once again showing me that she was a major player in my business. The big dry spread across the land like a cancer. We hadn’t had a decent rain for months, those months turned into a year and the situation was getting dire. This time it wasn’t hit and miss, everyone was affected. Mother Nature had a strangle hold and she was squeezing the life out of my business out of my family and out of my community. These were trying times. But out of adversity I learned strategies, I learned to plan and really got to know my cost of production. I learned that it was the 1 percenters that were the making or breaking. But in the end, heartbreak. After two and a bit years, the constant worry, the relentlessness of chasing feed and trying to finance the operation took its toll. As a family we drew a line in the sand and walked away from the farm and with that everything we had worked so hard for.
Thankful for the Lessons.
Despite the volatile relationship I had with Mother Nature, I am very grateful for the lessons that my silent business partner taught me, lessons that have shaped the person and businessman that I am today, lessons that will stand me in good stead in the future. She taught me, that in one 24 hour day you could marvel in her glory, or also be devastated by her ferocity. She taught me to be aware of my surrounding, not to take anything for granted, be adaptable, have initiative, be a problem solver, how to take calculated risks and the principle of sow before you reap, but most of all she taught me Resilience.
The moral to this story is to carefully choose who you go into business with, or at least be prepared for what they might throw at you.